Catherine Walker (fashion designer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the fashion designer. For other people named Catherine Walker or Katherine Walker, see Katherine Walker (disambiguation).

Catherine Walker (27 June 1945 – 23 September 2010) was a French born fashion designer based in London. Born as Catherine Marguerite Marie-Therese Baheux in the Pas-de-Calais, France, she was noted for having supplied over 1,000 outfits for Diana Princess of Wales, who was buried in a black dress designed by Walker.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Walker studied Aesthetics and Philosophy at the universities of Lille and Aix-en Province[1] and achieved a Master's degree. While studying for a PhD she moved to London and lived in Earl's Court.[1] She became a permanent resident after marrying solicitor John Walker in 1970.[1] The couple had two daughters. In 1975 John Walker was killed in an accident.[1] Her second husband was Said Ismael from Iran, a lecturer at the Chelsea School of Art who also became her business partner.[1]

She began her commercial life selling children’s clothes. She later moved into designing for women, specialising in high-end evening dresses, occasionwear and wedding gowns. In 1976 she set up her own company Chelsea Design Company in Sydney Street, Chelsea.[1] In 1991, Walker was awarded Designer of the Year for Glamour and in 1990 Designer of the Year for Couture. Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, and was treated surgically. She became a founding sponsor of Breast Cancer Haven.[1]

The Company[edit]

Catherine Walker opened her business in 1977 in Sydney Street, London. She was a successful couturiere for over 30 years. Walker was highly unusual in the fashion industry in that she shunned the limelight often associated with fashion designers. Walker designed two seasonal collections per year, as well as wedding gowns and created a range of skincare products. Following her death, her husband Said Cyrus took over the business as head designer. He continues to run it with the same philosophy, focusing on bespoke garments for clients and eschewing runway shows, large marketing campaigns, and the wholesale trade.

Notable clients[edit]

Diana, Princess of Wales[edit]

Catherine Walker became one of The Princess of Wales' favourite designers. Her professional relationship with Diana began three months after Diana's marriage to Prince Charles in 1981, and lasted until Diana's death sixteen years later, during which time Walker provided the Princess with many of her most iconic garments, including the so-called 'Elvis' gown.[2]

Lady Helen Taylor[edit]

The Duke of Kent's daughter, Lady Helen Windsor, wore a Catherine Walker design for her 1992 wedding to Tim Taylor.[3] The design was inspired by the architecture of the wedding venue, St George's Chapel, Windsor.[4]

Middleton family[edit]

Walker's designs were also chosen by Diana's daughter-in-law Kate Middleton for her tour of North America.[5] Kate's mother Carole Middleton wore a Catherine Walker to her daughter's wedding to Prince William.[6]


Walker died from cancer on September 23, 2010 in Sussex, England.


External links[edit]